My mother used to play the organ, and I was one of her biggest fans.
She never had an organ of her own until she was in her 60s and her second husband bought her one. She sure was proud that she finally had her own musical instrument to sit at and play her favorite songs.
That organ sat in a prominent place in the living room of her townhouse until it was ruined by floodwaters in 1997.
When I was a little boy, one of my mother's sisters had a beautiful old pump-organ that sat in her living room. Every time we would visit my aunt's home, Mom would sit down and pump the pedals of that organ to get the bellows working. Then she would play us a song.
My mother loved to dance, so she would play some of her favorite old dance numbers and my siblings and I would dance along.
Mom also loved to play hymns on the organ. She loved the old hymns of the church.
The last years of her life, my mother lived in an assisted living center. Some afternoons she would go down to the common area and sit down at the keyboard there and she would play some of her favorite songs. Her neighbors enjoyed the entertainment. I would have loved to have been there to listen too.
I remember when the church that I grew up in in Grand Forks, North Dakota put in the large pipe organ in the balcony. At that time it was the largest pipe organ in a church in the Midwest. It's still there at United Lutheran Church and it still sounds amazing.
My mom loved that organ, and so did I.
One of my favorite hymns to hear played on those amazing pipes was the song composed by Martin Luther, "A Mighty Fortress is our God."
That song of worship has been called "The Battle Hymn of the Reformation," and "the greatest hymn of the greatest man of the greatest period of German history." That hymn is such a majestic vehicle of praise to our creator.
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
I can still hear the sound of that organ playing as the choir and congregation of United Lutheran sang along. That to me is a true form of worship.
I don't know if my mother ever went up into that balcony and sat at the keys of that grand pipe organ, moved her feet across those pedals, and played a song, but she probably wanted to. And I would have loved to hear her play too.
We have a wonderful organ player at Cannon United Methodist here in Shelbyville. Shelley Pinkston plays the organ and the piano and she does an amazing job. We are so blessed to have her as a part of our worship team.
When I hear her playing the organ at the beginning of our worship services, I think of my how my mother would have enjoyed hearing her play. And Mom would have loved joining her at the keyboard.
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.